This Saturday will see Perth Glory travel across the ditch to Australian neighbor New Zealand to face Wellington Phoenix in round 5 of the Hyundai A-League.
The teams have previously met a total of 20 times. Wellington winning on nine occasions, Perth winning seven and both teams sharing the points four times.
Wellington, though having not won a game so far this season (four games – two losses and two draws), have impressed with their approach to each game and the style of football in which Ernie Merrick has brought to the Kiwi side.
High pressing combined with quality playmakers in Carlos Hernandez, Paul Ifill and Jeremy Brockie stands Wellington in good stead for the season if they can continue with the way they have started.
Outplaying Brisbane in their first game was an incredible introduction into the 2013/2014 season and they were unlucky not to win or at least get a draw from the game. Further draws to Newcastle and current league leaders Western Sydney were great results and instilled encouraging signs for the year.
Perth Glory will be looking for their third win of the season and their fourth consecutive clean sheet – a feat that hasn’t happened since 2007.
After grinding out a 1-0 win at home over Sydney FC, Alistair Edwards’ men will be looking for a more dominant performance with better precision and composure in the front third.
Wellington were nearly left without six of their key players after Glen Moss, Jacob Spoonley, Andrew Durante, Ben Sigmund, Leo Bertos and Jeremy Brockie were all summoned for New Zealand duty.
It was then decided between the FFA and New Zealand FA to allow the players to play this round and join up with the national team directly after by moving the game forward half an hour to allow players to make their connecting flights in time.
Shane Smeltz is also cleared to play for Perth.
Alistair Edwards is pondering whether to tinker with his starting XI with the return of all time A-League top goal scorer Smeltz and the grueling traveling schedule Perth endures throughout the season.
Don’t be suprised if you see a few regular names missing is all I’m saying.
The Glory defenders will be looking to be in peak form though as star signing William Gallas arrives in Perth on Saturday afternoon and will most definitely be sliding into any one of the back four positions.
Competition for starting spots is heating up as players are proving themselves in different positions and players coming off the bench are doing well, creating good headaches for the coaching staff.
Young gun Daniel De Silva is a late withdrawal from the squad after suffering a foot injury in the squad’s last training yesterday as the team left for New Zealand today – two whole days before the game.
I guess this highlights just how tough the traveling schedule is for Perth!
Perth Glory are currently in 4th position with 7 points and Wellington sit 9th with 2 points.